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Four One One

I don’t see Irene failing musically – Benon

MOVING ON: It is now about three weeks since Irene Ntale left Swangz Avenue and because she was the biggest artiste signed to the music label, the future of Swangz seemed uncertain. Benon Mugumbya spoke to us about the future.


What has Swangz Avenue been up to?
We are doing business as usual. Many know Swangz Avenue only as a music label but it does so many things and music comes after all those. Among the things we do apart from artistes management is events, adverts both Audio and Visual. I would then say we are busy at Swangz Avenue beating deadlines.

What is the truth behind Irene Ntale’s exit?
Both her statement and ours were very clear and it is the whole truth but if I am to go on and answer you, she felt that she wanted to control herself and when she asked us at Swangz, we respected her decision and let her go.

Did you feel the pinch of Irene leaving?
Truth be told, yes. It affected us somehow because as an artiste, she was playing a big role in promoting and mentoring the young artistes at Swangz. She was working closely with Winnie Nwagi, Zulanda, Black Skin and Joel Kisakye. She inspired them to work hard.

Did you see this coming?
I was actually shocked because I have always thought that Ntale leaving Swangz would be the last thing to happen but this is life, people come and go.

How long was her contract and had it expired?
About how long Irene’s contract was is a bit confidential but it was still on. At Swangz, all contracts with our singers have an exit clause in that when someone wants to leave, he/she is not stopped. It also means that it can be terminated at any time.

Many people said her social etiquette which involved over partying had a thing to do with her exiting.
Different people have their own opinions and speculations. Irene left at her own will and if it was for going to the bar and binge drinking, that is her personal life and we can’t control it.
Why was it that at the time when Ntale left, it was the same time you unveiled her former manager as a singer?
Vinka has always had the talent. Making her an artiste has been in the pipeline for a year and we were only waiting for the right day. It was just unfortunate that her time came when Irene was leaving.

So Vinka was not the reason Irene left?
No. Irene actually knew about Swangz Avenue’s plans of grooming Vinka into a singer and she participated in it as Vinka’s trainer for a year. The two even recorded a song together and the video is yet to be released.

When did you realise Vinka could sing?
We have worked with her for three years and we realised she had the love for music. We would use her for voicing commercials and gingles and all this time we were only waiting.

She has released a song titled Level but some people are bashing it already.
Every artiste who records a song has to respect the response of the listeners. Vinka is a young artiste who needs time but all I can say is that she still has a long way to go.

I have heard music promoters, radio and TV presenters vowing not to play her music because she wasn’t cooperative as Ntale’s manager.
We have been in this business for long and there are always many resistant forces but we won’t stop but give it our all.

Back to Irene, has she ever passed by to say Hi or do you talk on phone?
I think she is busy with her work but I sent her birthday wishes recently because she is still welcome at any time she feels like.

If she came begging, would you take her back?
I don’t see Irene failing musically. She is aggressive and she has enough knowledge about the music Industry. For the years we worked with her, we made sure we empowered her not only musically but we taught her to survive on her own.

Did she leave unfinished work in studio?
She left so many songs unfinished and I think that is very normal for artistes. They always do songs with only one verse and leave it; others only come up with instrumentals. Irene will move on with new projects.

What happens when Winnie Nwagi leaves because now she is the face of Swangz?
About Nwagi being the face of Swangz, I am not sure about that but in case she leaves Swangz, we shall continue working because Swangz has been there even before them. Like I said, music is not the main business at Swangz, it is a small business financed by other businesses.

Do we see Benon bouncing back as a singer?
I have a gospel album that I am working on with Tiki-Tah. I am taking time but I will release the songs sometime this year.

But the music industry is competitive; do you think you can still be the Benon that we knew back then?
I don’t think the music Industry is so competitive like you think, that I can’t penetrate through and make a comeback. Anyway right now I am past the age that wants to please a crowd or want to sing differently.

So you are doing music because you have a free studio?
I am happy that I am able to do what I want to do and I don’t take it for granted. I want to do music that will inspire someone’s life and I think that is easy for me to write and do.

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